Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras 101: The Fat Tuesday Herbsaint Frappe

Mistick Krewe of Comus 1856. Known as the krewe
"that saved and transformed Creole Carnival"
It's just a Tuesday for most of us throughout the country, but my fellow New Orleanians are celebrating. Today is Fat Tuesday and  there's way more to Mardi Gras than just getting drunk on Bourbon Street.

Fat Tuesday is the final day of the Carnival Season rooted in the rich French Catholic history of New Orleans. Mardi Gras has been celebrated in Louisiana since the 1600s. Many Mardi Gras traditions such as masquerade balls, parades, and krewes (the parade organizations) that are still around today have been running annually since the mid 1800s.

Louis Armstrong & the King of Zulu
The first African American Orginization
created in 1909.
Fat Tuesday as it's so lovingly referred to, is the final day of the carnival season.  The season began on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th) and culminates on the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. In Catholic tradition, Lent is the 40 day period of reverence and fasting before Easter Sunday. Basically New Orleanians took that as a cue to eat (hence the fat), drink, and party it up before everyone had to behave. 

Today in celebration of Mardi Gras we will imbibe a classic and distinctly New Orleans cocktail the Herbsaint Frappe. Herbsaint, an anise flavored liqueur, is the creation of two New Orleans natives J.M. Legendre and Reginald Parker. These two fine young gentlemen learned the process of distilling absinthe in France during World War I. When they returned to the states, they perfected their "legal" creation by imparting the flavors of absinthe but without the illegal wormwood. (I won't mention that this "legal" version of absinthe, was still illegal under US law until December of '33) Herbe sainte is the French Creole word for the sacred herb Artemisia Absinthium. Herbsaint can be used in any cocktail that calls for Absinthe or Pastis and if you're really brave you can try your Herbsiant frappe-ed.

Herbsaint Frappe

The Herbsaint Frappe (from Nola.com)

2 oz Herbsaint Liqueur
2 oz Water or Fever Tree soda water
1 tsp simple syrup

Combine ingredients in a large glass filled with cracked ice. Stir vigorously until well frosted, then strain off the liquid to remove the ice. Return the drink back into the frosted glass and serve. This drink has an extremely strong anise flavor...you have been warned.

Happy Mardi Gras and I hope you get out there and enjoy some good p-rades. If you're like me, missing some Nawlins, you can watch the action live from the Fat Harry's Parade cam: Click Here #paradecam

Laissez les bon temps rouler Ya'll!!!

*Henri Schindler, Mardi Gras Treasures: Invitations of the Golden Age

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